The feminine squeal of desperate aggression was perfectly understandable given that it was emanating from a woman whose bare rear was being soundly thrashed by a very tall man with a determined expression on his handsome face.
Splayed on a large bed, lit by candlelight playing over the reddened curve of her already hot bottom, the naked young lady wriggled with furious rebellion as crack after crack rang out, thick leather meeting her bottom over and over again no matter how much she flailed. Her disciplinarian had perfect aim, aided by the grip he took of the back of her neck, his large hand wrapping around the nape to pin her in place, her raven hair falling in glossy thick tracts over the pale linen upon which she was sprawled.
“Hating me won’t stop your arse from burning, Hannah,” Lorcan Wallace growled down at the newest, most reluctant part of his pack. His eyes glowed bright amber in the candlelight, rimmed dramatically by dark lashes that intensified his every expression.
Towering above his young captive, Lorcan gripped the leather tightly and brought it down, the muscles in his back, shoulders, and arm working in pronounced synchronicity to snap the paddle across the round rump of the most deserving whelp he had ever encountered.
“Cut it out!” Hannah wailed the order in her broad American accent, but she was not in any position to give orders. Her naked body was spread-eagled beneath him, her thighs scissoring open to reveal the dark fur that covered her lower lips, the bud of her bottom clearly visible, as well as the swelling of her lower lips. As much as she hated being thrashed, her body was betraying her. Lorcan could taste her scent, female desire flowering in spite of his discipline.
“You know better than to speak that way, whelp,” he growled down at her, sounding just as fearsome as he looked. Lorcan possessed all the features of an alpha, a broad build and powerful musculature matched with a face that was rough and intelligent at the same time.
“Let me up,” she spat through ruby lips. “Face me like a man!”
He let out a dark chuckle. Subduing Hannah was easy. She had a tender, feminine curved frame that was no match for his masculine bulk. However, having her recognize that she had been beaten was something else. She turned her head and cut her green eyes at him, all the fury of a spitting wild cat directed toward him as she tried to regain the upper hand.
Keeping her pinned, Lorcan watched her ass rising as she tried to squirm away from his grasp, lifting her lower body up onto her knees. She threw herself left and then right, concerning him that she would actually end up hurting herself in the attempt of escape.
He released her neck, which was what she had been waiting for all along. The moment she was free, she whirled and snapped, her teeth flashing white before burying themselves with potent aggression in his hand. Lorcan had been bitten by a great many wild things in his time, enough to know that what went into a bite was not just physical pain, but intention. When teeth met flesh, feeling flowed. He could feel her insubordination, the flash of passion that made her want him and hate him at the same time. She was absolutely beautiful, her wild side as evident as it ever had been. She could not know it, but he was proud of her in that moment. Not because of the fact her short canines were digging into his hand, but because she was what he wanted her to be—utterly raw and free.
“Let. Go.” He said the words calmly, almost softly, but with a cool, controlled menace that would have quelled the nerve of any of those who recognized him as alpha. He saw the flicker of uncertainty in her eyes as she felt the impulse to obey.
Though her teeth were still hard on his flesh, she was fighting herself more than she was fighting him. She let out a little animal growl, which was no doubt supposed to be intimidating, but was about the most adorable sound she could have made. He let his eyes drift from her defiant face down the length of her body. Her taut pink nipples were hard, her rear red from the center of her curved cheeks all the way down to the middle of her thighs.
Lorcan was not immune to her charms. His cock was hard beneath the denim of his dark jeans, straining at the fly. She was a stunning woman. Every curve of her body was a delight, from the soft round of her belly, to the full and prominent bottom cheeks that he loved to caress even more than he loved to spank.
He dropped the paddle and slid his other hand around the back of her head, tangling his fingers in the thick dark hair at the nape of her neck. He took a firm hold of her, squeezing just hard enough that she could feel his strength without being hurt by it.
“You’re being naughty, whelp,” he drawled in those same soft but firm tones. “Do I need take the cane to your backside?”
She had effectively gagged herself on his hand. The grip of her teeth made it impossible for her to speak, but she did let out a little squeal and made a minor shake of her head.
“I’m afraid I can’t understand you,” he said. “It sounds to me as though you want two dozen hard strokes of the cane.”
“Mmnnn!” More head shaking.
He resisted the urge to smile. She could be very cute when she was also being very naughty, but Lorcan knew very well that discipline was important for her more than any other member of his pack. This battle of wills had begun before he had known of her existence. It had started with Hannah’s journey from her home in New York to the southwest of England, a trip spurred by a desire to uncover a mystery shrouded in history. He doubted she’d ever imagined that she would end up where she was now, her rear welted, her pussy drenched with need, her lips and tongue all but suckling on him as her bite lost strength and became more of a soft mouthing of his hand.
Six Weeks Earlier…
It was raining. It had been raining for thirteen days, and it was likely to rain for thirteen more. Hannah dabbed her spectacles with her handkerchief and squinted through the deluge at the sign barely visible in the unrelenting gray of a British winter’s afternoon.
She was a very long way from home. Her travels had taken her from a comfortable New Hampshire residence to the United Kingdom in the service of the book she had clutched close to her chest, a journal encased in brown faded leather.
Hannah could hardly believe she was really there. She had been planning her journey to the remote southwest of England since she was thirteen years old. It had been a long six years and what felt like an even longer bus ride to arrive at the remote village of Darkwood Heath. The weather was not putting on much of a welcome. Bitterly cold drops of rain stung her cheeks and pinged down the back of her sweatshirt.
She was a damp and lonely figure in the storm, tight dark jeans clinging to her legs, the tight rear of her ass displayed to great advantage. Over that, her black hooded sweater was loose over the curve of her breasts, hanging in comfortable fashion around her hips. She had just one bag, which contained another couple pairs of jeans, another sweatshirt, some underwear, socks, money, her passport, and not much else. Her family had been rich once, but the passing of years had left the Wusters relatively impoverished. Her ticket to England had been procured after handing over way more baskets of fries than Hannah could count, and the meager savings she had to her name were tucked away in her bag. A few hundred pounds would not go far, or very long, but she didn’t care about that. She didn’t care about anything other than following the thread of mystery that stretched back into her family’s history.
She had the name of a local bed and breakfast scrawled on a piece of paper. The village was small enough that ‘Left, Left, Left, Right, and Left again’ were all the directions necessary to find the place. Pulling her hood up over her head, Hannah scampered into the rain, seeking temporary shelter from her adventure.
Running down the cobbled sidewalk, she spotted a sign that made her stop dead in her tracks. It hung from two rusty chains outside a low-slung building that oozed history. It read simply: Rusty Shank
Could it be? Surely not. But surely yes.
Hannah pushed the pub door open and almost immediately choked on the smoke. It was illegal to smoke in most bars, but this far off the beaten track, laws were more like guidelines. A thick haze hung in the air, tempered the lighting and made the place feel even more archaic than it already was. It was a pub after the very old style of building: a low thatched roof, plaster walls, thick beams threatening to crack skulls especially at the edges of the building where even she had to stoop to pass under them.
In addition to the smoke was the noise. A jukebox played Beatles hits to the sound of loud cursing from the patrons, most of whom were glued to the CRT television behind the bar where a soccer game was being played.
There was a scent in the air, discernible even through the cigarette fumes. It was an animal scent, not of man and not of beast, but some queer combination of the two, a musk that she could not ignore and in fact found quite pleasing.
A portly man behind the bar was addressing her. It took Hannah a moment to realize he was asking her if she wanted a beer. She almost said no, force of habit from pretending not to drink back in America. But she was in the UK now, and their laws were different. She was more than of age to drink, and she figured reaching a lifelong goal was probably worth celebrating with a pint, luv.
“Yes, please,” she said, fishing around for the right notes and coins.
She was handed a tall mug of dark stout with a thick foaming head on it, which she carefully carried to a relatively secluded table toward the rear of the bar. She chanced a sip on the way, finding it bitter to the taste but also refreshing.
Sitting down, largely ignored by the other patrons who were caught up in their conversations, Hannah opened the book that had brought her there. It was not so much a story as it was a diary, written by her great-great-aunt Honoraria. She rifled through yellow pages, edges well worn by her own hand. She knew the part she was looking for by heart, but she wanted to verify that things really were as they seemed.
Finding the passage, Hannah began to read:
The Rusty Shank was described to me by the postmistress as a villainous den suitable only for the criminally inclined. Locals avoid it, and yet it seems to me that it is always occupied to the brim by unsavory types. From whence do these brutes come? There is no evidence of them during daylight hours, during which the village is as cheerful and kind a place as any could be.
I find myself drawn to it, both for the raucous atmosphere that is quite unlike any one experiences in good society, and because I sense a mystery lurking in those walls. Who are the rough men who arrive en masse after dark and leave shortly before the sun rises?
Some suspect dog fighting taking place there. Howls are often heard through the night, though nobody dare investigate for fear of being taken. Darkwood Heath has suffered a number of disappearances in recent years. People of all ages have ventured onto the heath to be swallowed up by it. I have been advised to steer clear of both the tavern and the heath, but I did not come this far to avoid mystery. Indeed, I am thrilled by it.
Smiling broadly to herself, Hannah reached into her shirt and pulled out the locket she wore around her neck. It opened with a nudge of her thumb, revealing a curling lock of dark hair on one side and a portrait on the other.
“I’m here,” Hannah murmured down at the open locket in her hand. She was looking at the only surviving picture of great-aunt Honoraria, a woman born a hundred years before her to the very day. Looking down at the black and white photograph, Hannah looked at an almost spitting image of herself. They shared the same fine raven hair, and she imagined probably the same clear green eyes ringed with darker pigment. Even in the small photograph she could see the striking features that leaped out at her when she looked in the mirror. Hannah was not strictly pretty; her looks were too distinctive for that. She had a hard, straight nose, a wide mouth with a full lower lip and a much thinner upper one. Her cheekbones were high, her face on the narrow side. Her eyes were undoubtedly her best feature, one she highlighted with mascara and liner even on that dark, rainy day where people scurried under awnings and dashed indoors.
She had been even more awkward when she was younger, when cruel bullying had sent her from what was supposed to be her birthday party up to the attic, where she took refuge among the old boxes and rusty trunks that represented the last of her family’s glory. She could still remember finding the book. It had been hidden at the base of a trunk full of old clothes, wrapped in linen. A very unassuming package, but it had called to her. As a girl with little in the way of friends and a great deal in the way of imagination, she had been thrilled to discover that the package contained a handwritten diary chronicling the adventures of a woman named Honoraria who had seemed to be everything Hannah was not. Where Hannah was shy, Honoraria was bold. Where Hannah was afraid to go too far from the house, Honoraria had traveled the world. Through the eyes and words of her ancestor, Hannah had been swept out of the mundane shackles of ordinary life and taken back to a time where there was still true adventure to be had in the world. Honoraria had been braver than Hannah thought she could be, a role model who had not only been a guiding voice through rough teenage years, but a guide who had led her to this pub in the middle of nowhere, where Hannah was sure her adventures would begin.
Putting the book away for the moment, Hannah settled into her pint and the exotic though earthy atmosphere of the Rusty Shank.